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2020 List of Best Colleges for Automotive Engineering & Mechanics

A picture of a blue Ford Shelby on the road with a dark sky.

 

Movies make the world look so glamorous, don’t they? Especially when it comes to films featuring fast cars. The attractiveness of the actors and actresses doesn’t hurt anything, obviously, but the vehicles themselves offer a lot of the sex appeal in these movies. 

A line up of high-end, race-worthy cars rolling past the camera.
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There’s the entire Fast and Furious series, Need for Speed, Talladega Nights, the animated Cars movie, Taxi, Rush, Baby Driver, and on and on and on. We’ve been making and watching these movies as far back as 1958 with the release of Thunder Road

To this day, we still love fast cars and the history of how we ended up with the sweet models we have today. Ford v Ferrari is another iteration, this time telling the story of American car designer Caroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) as they challenge Ferrari at the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1966. 

There’s a lot that goes into designing, building, and maintaining vehicles, though, both on the racing track and on the roads. If you want to be one of those people, focusing your time and expertise on passenger cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, off-road vehicles, or even racing vehicles, do we have a list of institutions for you! 

If you're not sure what you want to major in, take advantage of our Careers & Majors quiz, and don't forget to make a Cappex account so you can add your favorite institutions to your college list! 

Types of Automotive Degrees

Depending on what you want to do, there are a variety of degrees, certificates, and diplomas you can earn. The general correlation will be that most certificates and diplomas you earn will get you entry to work in a shop. Degrees requiring four years or more will lead to more managerial or higher level roles, even ones in design and research. 

Degrees for Automotive Engineering can be far and few between, but there are several institutions that provide the extra emphasis on vehicles. You’ll more often see a Bachelor’s in Automotive Engineering Technology, which is great  Many colleges and universities will offer a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, possibly with concentrations or minors in automotive areas or topics. One of the first things you want to do is determine if you definitely want to exclusively work on vehicles. 

Automobile/Automotive Engineering is entirely focused on the design, manufacturing, and operation of motorcycles, automobiles, and trucks. 

Mechanical Engineering will branch out into any mechanical system, making it the broadest degree available in the engineering field. While it will encompass some specifics for vehicles, it will also overlap aerospace, metallurgical, civil, electrical, chemical, manufacturing, industrial, and even biomedical engineering. 

The Difference Between an Automotive Engineer & an Auto Mechanic

Both are needed in the automotive world, but they work at different stages of the game. 

When it comes to designing vehicles, updating existing features, research, and development, the Automotive Engineers handle that aspect of the automotive world. 

Once a vehicle is being used by consumers, it’s the Auto Mechanics that maintain them, working at repair shops, dealerships, and auto parts stores.  

2020 List of Best Colleges for Automotive Engineering & Mechanics

Now that we’ve laid the groundwork, let’s get into this list! The institutions are organized by acceptance rate with their major offerings bolded, so take a look and see if you can find a match! You can also take advantage of our What Are My Chances? scattergram to see where you land among other applicants. 

Montana State University-Northern

Acceptance Rate: 100%

Learning from Master ASE-certified technicians, students enrolled at Montana State University Northern can join the Automotive Technology program and earn a bachelor’s, associate’s, or minor. Th University also offers industry-sponsored technician training for Ford, Subara, and Maintenance & Light Repair.

On the flipside, MSU-Northern offers an ABET-accredited Mechanical Engineering degree.  

Weber State University

Acceptance Rate: 100%

At Weber State University, the Department of Automotive Technology offers several degrees and certificates to choose from, including Bachelor’s degrees in Field Service Operations and Advanced Vehicle Systems. Students can also opt for one of the Associate’s degrees, either in Independent Shop ATEP or Heavy Duty Trucks

Weber also confers two certificates, one in Automotive Service Technology and one in Industry Hybrids. 

Utah Valley University 

Acceptance Rate: 100%

Offering courses in Auto Tech, Collision Mechanics, Street Rod, and Power Sports, Utah Valley University’s Department of Transportation Technologies offers associate degrees, certificates, and diplomas across the board. 

To fund scholarships for the UVU Transportation Technologies students, UVU hosts an Auto Expo. 

University of Northwestern Ohio

Acceptance Rate: Unavailable 

At the University of Northwestern Ohio, students have a number of options to choose from in the College of Applied Sciences and College of Occupational Professions. UNOH offers diplomas, associate’s, and bachelor’s degrees in Automotive Technology, with classes all taught by ASE- and Master ASE-certified instructors. 

Students can also opt to major in Automotive Management and in High Performance Automotive Technology.

Idaho State University

Acceptance Rate: 99%

For technicians, Idaho State University offers several programs in their College of Science and Engineering. The Associate of Applied Science Degree in Automotive Technology and Advanced Technical Certificate in Automotive Technology are just the beginning — students can also earn an Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Collision Repair and Refinishing, as well as three certificate options. 

Pittsburg State University

Acceptance Rate: 87%

The Department of Technology at Pittsburg State University offers a Bachelor’s degree in Automotive Technology within the Kansas Technology Center. Majors can also choose an Emphasis in Automotive Mechanical Design to “dig deep into the study of automobiles from bumper to bumper.” PSU has 32,000-square-feet of automotive laboratory space, as well as 40 donated automobiles and all of the tools they need. 

Students can participate in the Annual Car Show hosted by the local chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers, the SAE Baja course which competes against schools from across the globe, and SkillsUSA. 

University of Central Missouri

Acceptance Rate: 86%

The University of Central Missouri offers a Bachelor’s degree in Automotive Technology Management (ATM) that focuses in three areas: Automotive Technology (obviously), Design Technology, and Service Management. They also offer and Advanced Vehicle Systems Certificate and Automotive Technology minor. 

Students will spend several hours per week in lab settings and working on UCM-owned vehicles. 

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Acceptance Rate: 81%

The Purdue School of Engineering & Technology at IUPUI offers a Bachelor of Science in Motorsports, and it’s the first university in the US to offer such a degree. Featuring a blend of engineering curriculum with vehicle dynamics, aerodynamics, data acquisition, and more, students are reading and raring to participate in the racing industry. 

Students can also opt to dual degree in Motorsports and Mechanical Engineering for 26 extra credit hours. 

 

University of Texas at Arlington

Acceptance Rate: 80%

At home in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Texas at Arlington, the Bachelor’s of Mechanical Engineering focuses on designing cars, autonomous vehicles, and robots. Students can use the Co-op/Internship Office to gain practical work experience, apply to work in faculty labs, or join the UTA Racing Formula SAE team!

Students can affirm their commitment to automotives through the Automotive Engineering Certificate offered through the Arnold E. Petsche Center for Automotive Engineering. 

A race car speeds around a track.
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Pennsylvania College of Technology

Acceptance Rate: 80%

No matter where you want to land in the automotive industry, the Pennsylvania College of Technology has a degree you’ll be interested in. They offer three Bachelor of Science degrees: Automotive Technology Management (on-campus and online); Automotive Service, Sales, and Marketing; and in Automotive Technology

Within the Automotive Technology degree, the Pennsylvania College of Technology offers three individualized majors for Ford ASSET, Honda PACT, and MOPAR CAP through partnerships with each company. 

During their time at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, students can earn up to 8 industry certifications, which includes an ASE certification. The college also offers a certificate to become an Automotive Service Technician and a competency credential to become an Aftermarket Performance Specialist. 

Ferris State University

Acceptance Rate: 78%

Ferris State University offers a number of programs focusing on automotives, starting with a Bachelor of Science degree in Automotive Engineering Technology (AET) and a Bachelor of Science degree in Automotive Management (AMGT), the second of which can also be taken as a minor. 

For the two bachelor’s degrees, students will gain hands-on experience laboratory experience in metallurgy, mechanical testing, vehicle emissions, and dynamometer testing, as well as an on-the-job internship. 

FSU also features two automotive certificate programs, one in motorsports and one in machinery. 

Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

Acceptance Rate: 72%

Using a combination of theoretical and practical hands-on application, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale offers a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Technology. SIU-Carbondale has a fleet of 90 late model training vehicles and a state-of-the-art Transportation Education Center. 

Outside of class, students can participate in the Automotive Technology Organization, the Women in Automotive Transportation Technology (WATT) group, and the Off-Road Club, the last of which received a Jeep Cherokee as a donation project vehicle. 

Kettering University

Acceptance Rate: 70%

Kettering University offers a Mechanical Engineering bachelor’s with a variety of concentrations, including Automotive Engineering Design, Machine Design & Advanced Materials, and Alternative Energy

Kettering is also home to a number of labs for students to get hands-on experience, including an Advanced Engine Research Lab, Crash Safety Center, and Energy Systems Lab. The co-op program also means students graduate with as much as two and a half years of experience. 

Brigham-Young University-Idaho

Acceptance Rate: 65%

Brigham-Young University in Idaho offers three Bachelor of Science degrees through their Automotive Technology Program—Automotive Engineering Technology, Advanced Vehicle Systems, and Automotive Technology Management. This ASE-certified program has students spending a goodly amount of time in labs and on test courses to get hands-on experience. 

Students can participate in the SAE Supermileage Team which competes the SAE Supermileage competition held in Marshall, Michigan, each year. For students interested in a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering, while BUY-Idaho doesn’t offer an automotive concentration, it can be focused on through a minor in Automotive Technology.  

Walla Walla University

Acceptance Rate: 65%

Walla Walla University is one of 15 schools in the nation to offer a Bachelor’s degree in Automotive Technology or Automotive Management. Students can gain hands-on (PAID) experience at the University Auto, the on-campus repair shop, as well as unrestricted access to the automotive lab and equipment. 

On the flipside, Walla Walla also offers an ABET-accredited Mechanical Engineering undergraduate degree, which includes “Depth Electives” such as Alternative Energy System, Manufacturing Systems, and Optimization, though there’s no automotive concentration. 

Minnesota State University-Mankato

Acceptance Rate: 62%

The Bachelor of Science in Automotive Engineering Technology (AET) program at Minnesota State University in Mankato is designed to prepare students for careers in product research, design and development, manufacturing, and technical sales in original and aftermarket equipment. 

Outside of class, students can participate in the MSU Drag Race Team and the Society of Automotive Engineers. 

McPherson College

Acceptance Rate: 57%

McPherson College runs a unique automotive program—in fact, it’s the only one of its kind in the nation. Focusing on automotive restoration, their program emphasizes Historic Automotive Technology, Automotive Restoration Management, Automotive Communications, Automotive Restoration Design, and Automotive Restoration Technology

With a 33,000-square-foot facility in Templeton Hall, students have access to specialized equipment and tools distinctive to the industry. They even have an ambitious goal: MC will compete to win at Pebble Beach Automotive Week by 2023!

A historic automobile drives slowly across the view of the camera.
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Southern Adventist University

Acceptance Rate: 49%

For students interested in becoming automotive mechanics, Southern Adventist University can put its students at a distinctive advantage. SAU has a full-service auto shop that repairs cars for the community. All students have the opportunity to take ASE test and become certified industry-wide. 

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Acceptance Rate: 27%

The University of Michigan Mechanical Engineering program is ABET-accredited. The undergraduate degree is the broad study of mechanical engineering, but it includes courses required for knowledge in the automotive industry. The university does extensive research on automotives and has a number of design teams to participate in. 

 

Any of the institutions above pique your interest? To check out more, take a look at our college search, which has more than 4,000 institutions to look at! Wherever you end up, we hope you feel as cool as P!NK does on this motorcycle. 

Singer P!NK on a pink motorcycle, revving the engine.
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